Beach project begun


At the start of any new project, local dignitaries often gather to “break ground,” symbolizing the forthcoming construction. But on Friday, April 12, county and state officials poured sand onto the beach, signifying the beginning of a major coastal restoration project.

For the $38.6 million Ponte Vedra Beach Restoration Project, 2 million cubic yards of sand will be dredged from an offshore site and placed along nine miles of coastline, from the St. Johns-Duval county line south to the GTM Reserve.

Friday’s ceremony was conducted at Mickler’s Landing Beachfront Park, 1109 Ponte Vedra Blvd. State Sen. Travis Hutson, state Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, county commissioners Krista Joseph and Henry Dean, and county Emergency Management Director Joe Giammanco spoke.

“Following the devastation of the 2016 and 2017 hurricane seasons, the Ponte Vedra community and St. Johns County recognized the need to renourish this beach,” said Giammanco. “I can’t tell you how many hours were spent on the planning, design, permitting and finding funding for this project. But I can tell you when the community, the county and the state come together, we can get it done.”

The project, unanimously approved by the County Commission on Feb. 20, will include dune reconstruction between 13 and 18 feet, berm elevation of eight feet and an increase in beach width of 40 to 180 feet. Operations will continue day and night, and the public can follow progress at or by using the county’s mobile app, SJC Connect, available at

About $30.6 million of the project will be funded by the state. The remainder will come from county matching requirements and funds previously set aside.

After all the sand is placed, an army of planters will plant about 1.2 million sea oats.

In addition to safeguarding the economic value of beach tourism, the project will offer sea turtles more space for hatchling nests. In 2023, St. Johns County beaches had an estimated 79,811 sea turtle hatchlings.

“Think about, with a wider beach, how many more there are going to be in the future,” said Joseph.

The project is expected to be finished in August.